They say that in bad economic times crime rises.
If online click fraud rates are any indication, they could be right. (Click fraud occurs when an automated computer program imitates a legitimate user by clicking on a search ad to generate a bogus charge.)
“Just as more street crime has been reported over the past few months, as the recession has deepened, so has more online ‘street’ crime, such as click fraud,” said David Hallerman, eMarketer senior analyst. “Hard times make for more illegal activity.”
In fact, according to Click Forensics, click fraud is at an all-time high.
The firm’s “Click Fraud Index,” now in its third year, shows that the overall industry average click fraud rate grew to slightly more than 17% for Q4 2008, up from 16% in the previous quarter.
“The online advertising industry is not immune to the growing tide of cybercrime during this recessionary period,” said Tom Cuthbert, president of Click Forensics, in a statement. “Both the overall click fraud rate and the rate of click fraud originating from botnets were the highest ever in Q4 2008.”
The US was responsible for most of the current cybercrime wave, but Canada (originating 7.4% of total click fraud), Germany (3%) and China (2.3%) also contributed to the rising click fraud rate.
Mr. Cuthbert cautioned, “Advertisers should pay close attention to their online campaigns throughout the year.”